03/06/2007 1:00AM

Post a major hurdle for Mystic Ruler


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Trainer Rick Violette's first reaction when asked about Mystic Ruler, the likely favorite in Thursday's $48,000 allowance feature on the Gulfstream Park turf, was a simple one: "Post 12!"

Despite drawing the outside in a strong field of older horses, Mystic Ruler remains the horse to beat. He is coming off an impressive second-place finish here Jan. 26 behind the red-hot Yankee Master while returning from a 6 1/2-month layoff.

"His first start back was very good," said Violette, who trains Mystic Ruler for the Castletop Stable, "especially since I thought he'd probably be a little short coming into the race. He finished in front of some very good horses that day."

Mystic Ruler, who earned a 95 Beyer Speed Figure winning his first-level allowance condition while trained by Stanley Hough last summer in New York, will don a set of blinkers for the first time for Thursday's assignment.

"It will just be cheaters, so when the rider asks him to get on with it he'll quicken more than grind," Violette said.

Violette could do little about drawing post 12, but he believes he has something that will help overcome the disadvantage.

"That's why I have [Edgar] Prado on him," Violette said with a smile.

Should the outside post prove too big of a disadvantage for Mystic Ruler to overcome, alternative choices are many in this field.

Obi Wan Kenobi returns to the turf off a much-needed six-furlong main-track outing here on Jan. 31. It was his first start since he was beaten just a length in the Grade 2 Jefferson Cup on June 17 at Churchill Downs.

Stratonic finished just a length behind Mystic Ruler when third after encountering trouble after the start in his 2007 debut on Jan. 26. The 86 Beyer Speed Figure he earned that day was a career best and suggests further improvement can be expected.

Nombre de Dios is a steadily improving Brazilian-bred who also comes off his best effort, rallying from far back to win a first-level allowance race over the turf off a three-month layoff on Jan. 24.

Broadway Producer had a two-race win streak snapped when he faltered late under similar second-level allowance conditions on Feb. 15.